Neelie Kroes to US companies: “Want to track European customers? By our rules then”

"Behave, or no cookies!"

11 Oct, 2012

Neelie Kroes, digital chief of the European Union and Vice President of the European Commission, was obviously not amused when she gave a speech yesterday about the new Do Not Track standards, that are currently being finalised in the World Wide Web Consortiom (W3C).

Kroes made it clear that she was worried about the delays in the work toward DNT standards, and also by the turn that things are taking, with many advertisers and web companies lobbying for exceptions and exemptions to the Do Not Track rules.

One of the amendments proposed by the marketing industry has been this beauty (we kid you not):

“Marketing should be added to the list of “Permitted Uses for Third Parties and Service Providers” in Section 6.1 of the Tracking Definitions and Compliance Document. “

Which, er, would kind of mean the end of Do Not Track.

‘No watering down of Do Not Track rules’

Kroes talked yesterday about the work being done right now on global standardization of Do Not Track rules:

Kroes: Several browser manufacturers have quickly incorporated the emerging DNT: and that’s positive. But let me be frank: standardisation work is not going according to plan. In fact, I am increasingly concerned. About the delay, and about the turn taken by the discussions hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). What is the problem? Top of my list comes the watering down of the standard.

The DNT standard should not let websites “second-guess” or disregard user choices. Recently, there were reports about a popular web server introducing a feature that amounted to overriding the DNT signal; in effect, ignoring users’ wishes. I find that troubling, and undesirable.

According to ZDNET, Kroes is specifically referencing a patch which overrides the Do Not Track settings in IE Explorer 10. Kroes included a pretty stern warning in her speech, directly aimed at American companies:

When I say this is in everyone’s interest, I mean everyone. Including American companies. Because if you want to track Europeans, you have to play by our rules.

And to put things in perspective, I really loved this tweet:


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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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